Brandon O’Reilly took over as TAG Farnborough’s CEO in 2006 and the pace of change at Britain’s only dedicated business aviation airport hasn’t slackened since. He immediately engaged with the local community and local business representatives and asked them about their chief concerns.
“The major concern was, as you would probably expect, noise,” O’Reilly says.
Thus was launched Farnborough’s quiet flying program, emanating from a group including airport management, pilots, air traffic controllers and local residents. The goal? Quieter flight routes into and out of the airport.
“Essentially we came up with a few solutions to stop overflying some of the more built-up areas around here, although not totally – that is the next project that is underway now,” O’Reilly says. He refers to the UK Civil Aviation Authority’s ACP – the Airspace Change Proposal – which would create an area of controlled “Class D” airspace around Farnborough. Class D stipulates precise flight paths, particularly for departures.
“It’s also a requirement upon us as part of our February 2011 [government] planning consent to gradually increase Farnborough’s movement capacity from 28,000 annual movements – it’s currently around 25,000 – to 50,000 by 2019,” O’Reilly says.
The ACP, according to TAG, is designed to create a new operating environment with elements of controlled airspace – offering all airspace users predictability and consistency of operation.This could further reduce noise and CO2 emissions, improving the environment in and around the airport while boosting efficiency and enhancing safety.
ACP public consultation closed on May 12. Based on feedback received, Farnborough Airport will make its ACP submission to the CAA toward the end of the year. General aviation and gliding fields at Blackbushe, Lasham, Fairoaks and Dunsfold are to come under the new controlled airspace regulations too.
“Clearly the CAA will be focusing on the safety aspects of uncontrolled airspace versus controlled,” O’Reilly says. “Everyone has their opinion – there are some very positive views and some more challenging ones, and that is what we want to hear.”
“Will controlled airspace create extra workload for GA flyers?” O’Reilly says it won’t. “It will be almost the opposite as pilots will be identifying themselves and getting an air traffic control service through the controlled airspace,” he says, “which has got to be a good thing.
“Our ATC is very astute at communicating with GA pilots,” he adds. “We have developed the LARS [Lower Airspace Radar Service], which is already based here at Farnborough, and they are very experienced in communicating with GA pilots.”—